The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case last week that would require public sector unions to reimburse nonmember employees for the agency fees it collected from employees before the high court in 2018 deemed this arrangement to be unconstitutional.
In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mark Janus, a child support specialist from Illinois who challenged the constitutionality of his union collecting agency fees (or so-called “fair share fees”) on his behalf. On June 27, 2018, the high court ruled that public unions may not deduct dues, fees or other payments from a public employee without first obtaining their “affirmative consent.” The landmark decision affirmed the First Amendment rights of public employees, who can no longer be compelled to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment.
The case declined by the court last week sought to revisit this decision and require public unions to reimburse nonmembers for the agency fees it collected from them prior to the decision. The case landed before the high court after it was dismissed by the federal district court and federal appeals court. Both courts determined the unions did not owe back pay to employees because they were acting in “good faith” at the time they charged nonmember fees, since the precedent nullifying agency fees had not yet been issued.
Jeffrey Schwab, an attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, said in a written statement that the organization is disappointed the Supreme Court did not hear the case.
“We are continuing to fight for back fees for government employees who paid money to unions against their will,” he said.